reviews, News and Updates
Recently, whilst we pulled together the results of Sportif Magazine's 2015 Rider Survey we noticed that more and more riders are going abroad to find their cycling thrills. Whilst it's getting easier to hire a bike abroad it's never quite the same as riding your own favourite steed and so travelling with a bicycle, and keeping it safe, is an issue.
Finding ourselves in need of a hard case for test bicycles during our recent trip to Andalucia, we decided to give one of the more high profile manufacturers a whirl and got on the phone to Rotherham based BikeBoxAlan to put a couple of their industry recommended boxes to the test.
The BikeBoxAlan comes in 12 colours and one standard size. We found the bigger of our two test bikes, the 58cm long term test Torus, was a bit of a squeeze but with careful packing it was perfectly well protected. If you have a larger frame than this, BikeBoxAlan offer a bespoke large frame box which will cost you an extra £25... Full story here
NEWS: Full Closed Road Climb: Long Mynd Burway
On Sunday 2nd August Kilo To Go are holding the Shropshire Mynd sportive including a fully closed road climb up the iconic Long Mynd Burway. Starting from Ludlow Racecourse there's ample parking and it provides a nice, quiet (traffic-wise), start/finishing point.
For those who haven't yet come across the Burway it's an absolute beast of a twisty-turny climb up Long Mynd. Strava class it as a cat 3 but at Sportif we think it's at least a cat 2, it's too steep at the beginning and too long at 3km to be a cat 3 - but don't let that put you off, on a clear day you can see all the way into Wales to the west, the Malvern hills to the south, over to the east are the Clent hills near Birmingham and in the north the bizarre Wrekin near Shrewsbury. Local boy Liam Holohan holds the KOM with a speedy 6:16 and our very own Vic holds the QOM with 8:28... full story here
NEWS: Bank Holiday Weekend Events
This coming bank holiday weekend sees a whole host of events across the British Isles, from the Tour of Wessex starting in Somerton where you can pick up a copy of Sportif Issue 06 to the Continental Welsh Wild West in Aberystwyth and from Lo Scorpione in the Lake District to the Tour de Conamara in Galway.
There's something to suit everyone, whether you're looking for a gentle potter over 25 miles or to tackle a beast of 335 miles over three days. See the events calendar for full details.
KIT: BMC Teammachine SLR03
At the beginning of May I took one for the team and flew to northern Italy to ride the 'flat' roads around Lake Como, along for the ride was the BMC Teammachine SLR03.
As BMC are based in Switzerland, riding around Lake Como brought the bike pretty close to its spiritual home. Each day of riding had it twitching to cross the border but the lure of seeing another lakeside town kept me interested in Italy until right at the end of the trip where I braved the switchbacks into Switzerland on the way to Lugano. I'm sorry to say my legs weren't the only tired part of me after a week in the saddle, as I accidentally mistook the road signs and ended up on a motorway slip-road. Needless to say I hotfooted it back to safe Italian territory and tried not to look too sheepish passing the border patrol so quickly after entering Switzerland.
But back to the bike, the Teammachine SLR03 is a beauty. I'll say that from the off. Sleek, matt black, with red accents and Shimano 105 throughout, including excellent styling touches found in the dropped seat stays and triangulated seat tube cluster, the trademark look of BMC. I tested a 51cm (weighing in at under 8.4kg) which looked ever so slightly on the small side but actually rode beautifully when it came down to it. This model is available in a 47cm up to a 60cm.
My usual bike is a female specific Focus with narrow bars that have at times felt a little too narrow, I found the opposite on the Teammachine. The bars are most definitely built for someone with broader shoulders than me but it wasn't a massive problem, it's worth noting that after many, many miles in the saddle the bars would need to be a few centimetres narrower for me – a point to bear in mind unless you've got shoulders like Fabian Cancellera... Full review here
NEWS: Inaugural Cotswold Crank Up Sees Boom in Entrants in Run Up to the Event
Sunday 24th May sees the inaugural Cotswold Crank Up take place starting from Henry Box School in Witney near Oxford. Riders will have a chance to sign up on the day from 7am with pre-registration closing at 11pm on Thursday 21st May.
The Cotswold Crank Up has a choice of three routes: 25/50/80 miles with a heavy focus on providing local food and drink not only on the course but at the end from the Cyclists Sausage Company!
The two longer routes take in the quintessentially Cotswold town Bourton-on-the-Water amongst other beautiful towns, villages and varied countryside... Full story here
NEWS: Strava Reveals London’s Top Café Stops for Cyclists - Sportif Magazines Available!
Riding application Strava has analysed 10.1 million London-based rides and released a list of the capital's top 15 cycling haunts with the Roehampton Gate Café in Richmond Park fighting off stiff competition to take the top spot.
The run down, which includes shops and cafés, throws up a number of well known names such as Look Mum No Hands! in Old Street and the Peaslakes Stores in the heart of the Surrey Hills and provides an interesting snap-shot of where London's sportivistes might be hanging out for a cup of tea and some well-earned cake.
Just as interestingly, it also reveals that Sportif Magazine is available directly at 2 of the 15 sites and pleasingly in Park Cycle, Richmond Park which is opposite number 1 on the list, the Roehampton Gate Café.
NEWS: Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia: Start the Party
The event opens tomorrow in Aprica with Expo Village of Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia. Riders depart on Sunday from Pinzolo, following a route that awaits the professionals just 10 days later.
Pinzolo, 14 May 2015 - The countdown has begun to the GRAN FONDO GIRO D’ITALIA. Sunday, May 17 sees amateurs take on the Queen stage of the Giro d’Italia 2015: from Pinzolo to Aprica. There are two options available to them: the long route of 174km with the legendary climb to Passo del Mortirolo; and an easier, medium route of 102km, which will end on the first pass of Aprica.
People will travel from 18 COUNTRIES around the world to compete, including the United States, Canada, Brazil, New Zealand, Britain, France, Germany, Hungary, Sweden and Denmark.
Proving this is not a men-only marathon, female riders will make up 5% of the riders taking on the long route and its mighty Mortirolo.
NEWS: Ventoux Triple Ascent Challenge
Cycle holidays stalwart Stuart Hall Cycling is set to offer keen sportivistes the chance to tackle the infamous Mont Ventoux from all three approaches in a new challenge ride this summer.
Taking place on Saturday 20th June, the event has been created by Stuart Hall, owner of Stuart Hall Cycling, and leading research and support charity Parkinson's UK.
Entitled 'Ventoux3' it is hoped that teams of three from businesses across the UK will endeavour to power three times up and three times down the mountain together in one day, in a "Ventoux to the power of 3" challenge.
Stuart Hall, explains, "We are looking for keen cyclists to sign up for this event with a strong masochistic streak! This isn't for the faint hearted, and will be a huge challenge. You'll need lungs like an air balloon and legs of steel. Let's just say it will be tough, but one hell of an achievement!".
The gruelling triple ascent of the Giant of Provence will involve more climbing per distance cycled that any existing sportive event – more than 5km over the 120km ride. Hall, who has completed the three sides of the Ventoux, said the sections near the summit are likely to be the toughest.
"It really is inhospitable up there. It's a barren and torturous landscape. More like a moonscape than anything you would normally find on Earth."
Those taking part will be following in the cycling tracks of Chris Froome, who became the first British cyclist to win on Mont Ventoux in the 2013 Tour de France...
NEWS: Tour of Cambridgeshire Gran Fondo now a UCI World Cycling Tour qualifying event
This is the first ever UWCT gran fondo to take place in the UK and for the first time allows riders the chance to qualify for the Amateur World Championships without having to travel abroad to do so.
The UCI World Cycling Tour (UWCT) is a series of UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale - the world governing body for cycle sport) sanctioned competitive road events held all over the world. On 7th June 2015, the top 25% of finishers in each age group in male and female Masters categories will qualify for the UCI World Amateur Road Championships, the former UWCT Final and UCI Masters Road World Championships, where champions are awarded a rainbow jersey.
Those entrants who have UCI points or in a UCI registered team are not eligible to qualify for the UCI World Amateur Road Championships but can still ride the Tour of Cambridgeshire Gran Fondo for the original prize list on the day.
For more information on the UWCT please visit: www.uciworldcyclingtour.com
For more information on the Tour of Cambridgeshire please visit: www.tourofcambridgeshire.com
RETRO: The Autumn Epic
[In which our hero attempts to deal with a trifling injustice without resorting to feelings of bitterness and revenge, and fails]
I’m not a very committed rider of sportives, and I’ll admit that from the start. I don’t think I’ve ever done more than about half-a-dozen, and even then they’ve varied wildly, from a 120-mile climbing festival to a thirty-mile potter round a ‘family’ loop with Chris Boardman. I just don’t seem to have had the time to get to very many of them.
What I do know is that the first one I did was by some distance the most entertaining. That was the Autumn Epic, in mid Wales. It went through Radnorshire and the Elan Valley – places I admit I’d barely even heard of. The roads were quiet, the views were spectacular, and the weather was apocalyptic. The rain was both torrential and horizontal. The base of the dark grey clouds was about a foot above your head, and the roads were littered with twigs, branches and even, sometimes, whole trees...
KIT: Locksit or lose it
Although Sportif is aimed at mass-participation riding we’re aware, following our recent sportive rider survey in February, that over 40% of sportive riders commute on a weekly basis.
For those that commute, wearing a helmet can lead to it awkwardly sitting on a desk or taking up space in a locker all day when it could be waiting patiently, and more importantly securely, with the bike.
I was told a story once by our deputy editor who was involved in a short on-bike film before the 2012 Olympics with former professional rider Rob Hayles, just before filming commenced he popped to the loo leaving his bike and helmet propped up outside, under the now questionable watch of others... Full review here
KIT: Gore fits the bill
Gore Xenon Lady Shorts & Jersey, Gore Xenon Gloves
Cycling isn't cheap, not like running where you can get a pair of trainers for a few quid on ebay and then dig out a pair of shorts and a t-shirt and you're away. I'm not suggesting running can't get expensive, I have previously been sucked into compression wear (literally) and fancy trainers, but that is more choice than necessity.
With cycling, getting the right bike and the right kit is paramount to your enjoyment of the sport.
As a woman, the choice of gender specific cycling kit has expanded massively in the last couple of years. However, as a woman who is shaped like a woman, the choice of cycling kit that isn't just made for the whippety ladies out there seems to be less readily available. Finding kit that looks as stylish as a pro's cyclewear is even rarer.
As a bit of an experiment, I blindly requested from Gore their Xenon 2.0 Lady Jersey and Shorts in a size medium along with the Xenon 2.0 mitts in a small, the experiment part of it being that I didn't read the size guide beforehand.
As much as I'd like to be what is classed as an XS, I'm really not and I never will be no matter how much I ride thanks to some pesky hip bones, I am firmly a medium. So was very pleasantly surprised when the Gore kit arrived and it fit perfectly, and the mitt gloves fit, well, like a glove...
KIT: Buff TdF Evry
How on earth do you go about writing a review for Buff Headwear? After all, it's a rather expensive tube of lycra right? Wrong! If you're not already familiar with the technicalities and uses of a Buff then you're missing a trick. It really is one of those things cyclists should always carry or wear – indeed you might have spotted a Buff or two in the pro peloton on very hot or cold days. Let's explain:
Firstly, a Buff Multifunctional Headwear, to use the correct and full name, is made from a 100 percent polyester microfibre, which is wind-resistant, breathable and wicks moisture. Microfibre denier is finer than silk which helps with the wicking of perspiration in hot conditions. In cold conditions the fine material also has tremendous thermal properties too – rather like silk but more so. The other consideration about the Buff brand itself is that they regularly release some of the some of the most contemporary and innovative print designs too; enter the 2015 Tour de France commemorative Buff.
Buff is a Spanish company with most of their production taking place within the EU, just outside Barcelona in fact. Fittingly, this particular Buff was on test in March in Spain at the foot of the famous Velefique climb sometimes used in the Vuelta Espania. Full review here.
NEWS: Sportif survey results made commercially available
Sportif magazine has released a data-rich survey of sportive riders in the UK. The 2015 Rider Survey reveals that three-quarters of sportive riders are likely to be sniffing out a new bike purchase soon, even though it's likely many already own three bikes each. The survey also reveals that 46 percent of women sportive riders rode abroad in the last 12 months, which is a percentage point higher than men.
The survey was conducted in February and includes data from 740 sportive riders, who provided nearly 42,000 pieces of data.
Sportif magazine has released a data-rich survey of sportive riders in the UK. The 2015 Rider Survey reveals that three-quarters of sportive riders are likely to be sniffing out a new bike purchase soon, even though it's likely many already own three bikes each. The survey also reveals that 46 percent of women sportive riders rode abroad in the last 12 months, which is a percentage point higher than men... Read the full article on Bike Biz here
If you would to discuss obtaining the survey results and/or raw data please contact us here
IT: Torus Ti Road Winter Sport - Long Termer
Back in September we were mightily impressed with the Road Winter Sport from Torus Bicycles, a partnership between Burls and Clee Cycles. So much so that we secured a bike for long term testing in February of this year.
Gone are the mudguards but the spec is exactly the same as tested in Issue 2 with full Shimano 105, Mavic Ksyrium wheel set and KCNC finishing kit, retailing at £1800.
Read the full review here
New Shop Stockists:
Hammer Sports (from July)
Cycle Surgery @ Snow + Rock in Leeds
Specialized Covent Garden
Total Fitness Bath
@the Hub in Swindon
Pave Velo in St. Austell
Griff's Cycle Lab in Crowthorne
Oakwell Cycles in Birstall
Sanctuary Bikes in Houghton le Spring
Mud Sweat 'n' Gears in Weymouth and Dorchester
Hardie Bikes in Cairneyhill
Mountain Trax in Wokingham